Tuesday, February 19, 2008

58th Update

Sorry for the lack of deep, meaningful posts lately. I’ve been hard at work on the 58th NCT book. I posted last week about flags for the regiment. This week, I’m stuck at Chattanooga. The regiment is in the trenches at the foot of Missionary Ridge and Federals are getting ready to attack.

Here is my sticking point. On November 19, Colonel Palmer is transferred to western North Carolina as the new departmental commander for the area. That leaves the 58th NCT with no field officers. Palmer is gone, Lt. Col. Kirby is dead, and Major Dula is out wounded. Confederate officials decided to temporally consolidate the 58th NCT and the 60th NCT under the command of the 60th’s colonel, Washington M. Hardy (a distant relative of mine).

So, does the 58th and 60th fight as a single entity, or do they fight separately? Does it matter? Well, yes. Part of the 60th NCT becomes demoralized during the retreat up Missionary Ridge, and refuses to fight any more. Did that part include any members of the 58th NCT?

There was an article published in the July 2000 issue of the North Carolina Historical Review by Weymouth Jordan and John Chapla on Reynold’s brigade at Missionary Ridge. They believe that the 60th NCT was on the left, followed by the 58th NCT, followed by the 54th VA, and the 63rd VA. I’m not sure how they reached this conclusion. I’ve checked their sources, and I just don’t see it.

This is the third of what I consider fairly serious questions that I’ve been unable to answer so far. Maybe time will tell.

I did find this jewel recently. Captain (later major) Harper (Company H) is writing home about new recruits coming to the regiment (October 1863). He called one of them a "plug ugly," most likely referencing the Baltimore street gang. I thought that was pretty interesting!

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